Right to contest an election neither a fundamental right nor a common law right: SC

PTI, September 13, 2022, 6:37 PM IST

The right to contest an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right, the Supreme Court has said while dismissing with a cost of Rs one lakh a petition which raised the issue of submitting a candidacy for the elections of Rajya Sabha.

Observing that an individual cannot claim to have the right to contest an election, the Supreme Court noted that the Representation of the People Act 1950, read with the Rules of Conduct for Elections 1961, provided that the name of a candidate had to be proposed while filling in the application form.

A bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed the order while hearing a plea challenging the Delhi High Court‘s June 10 order which dismissed a motion regarding the decision of the petitioner’s candidacy for lodge his candidacy for the Rajya Sabha elections, 2022.

The petitioner had stated that an election notification to Rajya Sabha was issued on May 12, 2022, to fill seats for members retiring from June 21, 2022 to August 1, 2022, and that the deadline for submission of candidacy was May 31.

He said he collected the application form but was not allowed to submit his application without a suitable nominator offering his name.

The petitioner claimed that since his candidacy without the nominator had not been accepted, his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and his right to personal liberty had been violated.

“We find that the petition for writ in the High Court was entirely wrong, as is the present petition for special leave. The right to challenge an election is neither a fundamental right nor a common law right. It is a right conferred by statute,” the Supreme Court said in its order passed last week.

The bench, which referred to an earlier judgment by the highest court, noted that the petitioner had no right to contest the election to the Rajya Sabha under the law passed by Parliament.

“The Representation of the People Act 1950, read with the Rules of Conduct for Elections 1961, considered the name of a candidate to be put forward when filling in the nomination form,” he said.

“Therefore, an individual cannot claim that he has the right to contest an election and the said stipulation violates his fundamental right, so as to file his candidacy without any nominator as required by law,” observed the bench.

The Supreme Court dismissed the petition with a cost of Rs one lakh and said the cost would be paid to the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee within four weeks.

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